I would like to know the meaning/definition of the word Shudra?

Some 3-4 years back, in a commentary of an Upanishad I found someone explaining the word Shudra to mean the one who is always in grief (who is always ShokAkul). Any such definitions derived from āchārya works are also acceptable.


  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Jan 8, 2018 at 6:44
  • My question already asks etymologies of all other varṇas. Your question is a subset of that. Jan 8, 2018 at 16:19
  • @sv. Should I delete my question then? Jan 8, 2018 at 16:24
  • @Tamas. You can keep it as it's specific to one varṇa. The other one doesn't have any answers either. Can mark this as dup if mine gets answered first. Jan 8, 2018 at 16:28
  • @sv. WIll mark this duplicate if yours get answer first. Jan 8, 2018 at 16:29

3 Answers 3


In ChAndogyo Upanishad 4.2.3 the Shudra word is found.

The translator of my book (SwAmi GambhirAnanda) says that according to ShankarAcharya and according to Brahma Sutra 1.3.34-35, here the word's Yogic meaning is implied.

And, for that meaning, the etymology is the following:

Shudra --- "ShuchA dravati" (one who melts in grief/sorrow is a Shudra).

But, this is just one of the many etymologies for Shudra. There has to be more of those which are more appropriate in describing the caste called Shudra.

See from here, one meaning for ShuchA is grief. And, from here see the various meanings of Drava from which Dravati is derived.

  • As long as one is colossally conditioned, one is grief-stricken. The extent of one's conditioning is what implies one's varna. And it's heavenly determined by the birth and upbringing leaving exceptional cases. In BG also Krishna called Arjuna behaving like a Shudra while finding him grief-sticken. I'm convinced whoever has built his temperament grief -sticken is Shudra. Sep 11, 2018 at 6:36

The word "shudra" etymologically means one who grieves or sorrows.

In the Chandogya Upanishad there is a story where a king is addressed by the word "shudra" because he is in grief that he has not acquired the knowledge of Brahman yet.

Brahma Sutra 1.3.33 explains the usage of the word "shudra" in that context to mean "one who grieves."

Here is Ramanujacharya's commentary on that sutra:

From what the text says about Jânasruti Pautrâyana having been taunted by a flamingo for his want of knowledge of Brahman, and having thereupon resorted to Raikva, who possessed the knowledge of Brahman, it appears that sorrow (such) had taken possession of him; and it is with a view to this that Raikva addresses him as Sûdra. For the word Sûdra, etymologically considered, means one who grieves or sorrows (sochati). The appellation 'sûdra' therefore refers to his sorrow, not to his being a member of the fourth caste.

Shankaracharya says the same thing in his commentary on that sutra:

The word 'Sûdra' can moreover be made to agree with the context in which it occurs in the following manner. When Jânasruti Pautrâyana heard himself spoken of with disrespect by the flamingo ('How can you speak of him, being what he is, as if he were like Raikva with the car?' IV, i, 3), grief (such) arose in his mind, and to that grief the rishi Raikva alludes with the word Sûdra, in order to show thereby his knowledge of what is remote.

Now there is another etymology given by SAR Prasanna Venkatachariar Chaturvedi Swami which means "one who removes the grief of another through his service," because Shudras' duty is to serve.


shudra means of low caste. there were four categories in hinduism.

According to priority:

  1. Brahmin: who is like priest in hinduism.
  2. kshatriya: who are like warrior who constituted the ruling an military elite.
  3. vaishya: who are traders or money lenders.
  4. shudra: The Shudra, states Marvin Davis, are not required to learn the Vedas. They were not "twice born" (Dvija), and their occupational sphere stated as service (seva) of the other three varna.
  • hmmmm. right bro. okay Jan 8, 2018 at 16:40
  • 5
    You should cite some sources. Visit How to Answer.
    – Pandya
    Jan 8, 2018 at 16:52
  • 1
    Where is the etymology given? The main question is about etymology. Jan 9, 2018 at 7:43

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